Xerostomia is also known as dry mouth. As the name suggest it is characterized by an inadequate amount of saliva to keep the mouth moist. Because of this decreased salivary flow, Xerostomia can affect: taste, nutrition, speech, inability to tolerated dentures and increased risk of tooth decay. It is therefore no surprise that Xerostomia can negatively impact a patient’s quality of life. While Xerostomia itself is not a disease, it can be a symptom of certain diseases and their treatment.
Causes of Xerostomia include:
Cancer Treatment: Salivary flow and consistency can be affected by chemotherapy. Also Radiation treatment around the head and neck can affect the major salivary glands ability to produce saliva temporarily or even permanently. Sjogren’s Syndrome: An Auto-immune disease that can affect fluid production from the Salivary and Lacrimal glands, leading to Dry Mouth ( Xerostomia ) and Dry Eyes ( Conjunctivitis Sicca ). Nerve Damage: Head and neck trauma from Surgery or accidents can affect the nerve supply to the salivary glands and have a negative impact of salivary production and flow. Medications: The list of medication that can affect salivary production is exhaustive. Medication to treat Blood pressure, Anxiety, Depression, Pain, Allergies (Anti-histamines) to name a few can significantly decrease saliva production. Our doctors can help in navigating the possible causes of Xerostomia and suggest effective management. If the cause of Xerostomia cannot be reversed, then management with medications to increase saliva production (Sialogogues), Saliva replacement and proper re-hydration may help. Close follow-up with the general dentist and use of topical fluoride is suggested to abate caries activity.